Psst .. Jim McPherson, the creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos, put the finishing touches on both 2013’s “Nuclear Dragons” and 2014’s “Helios on the Moon” in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.
He’d didn’t bruit this about on any of the Phantacea websites because he mistakenly thought he was keeping the town a private delight. Guess what? It didn’t work. So much so that by the time he decided to return there this year it was packed.
He ended up staying — index fingers crossed in a warding gesture of just that, a cross — at the Hacienda Morelos. Here’s his report, as first published on the booking.com website earlier this week:
Business card used by Jim McPherson when in Phantacea mode; the Pharaoh’s head is actually a parking shot on Giza Plateau as shot by Egyptian air force circa 1929/30; Sedon’s Head by Jim McPherson and Tim Hammell, ca 1978
“Gorgeous setting about only good thing about Hacienda Morelos”
Situated right on a ledge above a nearly endless, soft sand, Caribbean beach that’s kept fairly clean. (Trash cans could do with more frequent dumping and the sargassum sea weed, while not as bad as last year, needs more aggressive attention.) Gorgeous view of diving and fishing boats and tenders, with the port, hence Puerto Morelos, in distance.
View from the terrace of the Hacienda Morelos after a rain storm
A short walk to town square (zocala), a selection of good restaurants and a decent coffee house. One place even serves Austro-Hungarian goulash while a couple have outrageously pricey lamb. Lots of music in the bars and restaurants, though nothing at hotel, fortunately, which was quiet at night. I say fortunately because much of my stay was unfortunate.
Had to ask for towels as none were supplied at first. When I complained about the lack of hot water in shower, the desk clerk suggested I didn’t get up early enough; that everyone showers between 7 and 9 a.m., and that water containers can only heat so much.
Looking up at the Hacienda Morelos as shot from the beach in February 2016 by Jim McPherson
Besides, she added, it’s usually hot, so guests don’t mind tepid shower water. (It did rain a few times and the wind was nearly constant, so not the best weather. But I was there to write and the town was down the street, so didn’t mind too much.)
Kitchen ran out of black tea after two days and never replaced stock for remaining five days. (Couldn’t find any in the local store but never checked Oxxo, the omnipresent Mexican equivalent of 7-Eleven.) The continental breakfast consisted of stale white toast, dubious pineapple marmalade, juice and either coffee or tea, read Nescafe and caffeine-free Manzanilla Chamomile. Everything else is extra.
I asked for plain yogurt and granola but they never had any granola, so they didn’t charge me. Once they substituted pink lemonade for juice and another time powdered Tang or some such. So don’t jump at offer of a free breakfast likr . Or the advertised notion that WiFi is available throughout hotel. It isn’t.
Shot of a rainbow taken from Hacienda Morelos terrace, image flipped horizontally.
In fact, it’s only available in the lobby or on the terrace and even then you need two separate sign-ins. Fortunately (again) I was assigned a terrace room, which was actually on the pool deck. Scuba lessons started at 8 a.m. but were usually done by 10. The doors had no screens and the room had no overhead fans. The air conditioning was so loud I shut it off. Something of a blessing, the windows that opened did have screens.
Perhaps worst of all were the pillows. They were so stuffed with foam they had no give. Instead of cushioning your head they more like bruised it. I asked for down pillows but they didn’t have any. Gave me a couple of pillows with some of the foam removed, which was better. Except one of them hadn’t been sewn up properly and I ended up with foam all over the bed, floor and me, until I noticed it. Rather than replacing it they doubled up the pillow casing.
Won’t be returning to Hacienda Morelos anytime soon. Even without the to me shocking add-on of 19% tax, it’s an overpriced shell of what once, twenty or thirty years ago, might have been a fabulous place to stay.
Phantacea Publications logo utilizing a Sun-Moon wood carving spotted and shot by Jim McPherson, 2014; taken to represent the Dual Entities during happy times